Hello everyone and welcome to our April wrap up! It’s been a little while since we’ve put one of these together, but we have some great books and a few other fun things to talk about this month. As always, we’ve divided the wrap up into several sections and we hope you’ll enjoy reading our thoughts!
As usual, there is a lot of bad going on in the world right now, so this month we would like to mention the ongoing COVID crisis in India. Here is a twitter thread of places you can potentially donate to – even the smallest donations can help – and here is a Google Doc that is easy to navigate and you can easily find places that are in most urgent need of donations and ones that accept international donations.
Things We Did
Honestly, this is one of the hardest parts of a wrap up for me, because not only do I typically do nothing, usually if I do something I can’t remember when exactly I did it. For example, I couldn’t recall if Easter was this month or earlier until I looked it up. For that, we took my Grandma to church on the Saturday night (it was a bit difficult as she is struggling with memory and the service went for approximately two and a half hours – no exaggeration) and on Sunday we had a nice lunch with my Papa and his wife.
Also in April, my family celebrated my sister’s birthday by visiting her at her university dorm. It just so happens to be near where my Papa lives, so we dropped in on him as well and we ended up taking his dog, Crash, home to look after for a week. That turned into a bit of a nightmare, as he is sick and on a strict diet that he obviously hates. He wouldn’t settle, because he was hungry and itchy, and would rile up my dog as well. I’m still a bit sad he’s gone back to my Papa’s now though!
March and April has really driven home the message that I’ve been cooped up inside my house for more than a year, and I’ll admit, I don’t yet see the light at the end of the tunnel. As of right now, less than half our population has signed up to get the vaccine, which is nowhere near enough. I’m happy that my parents have both been vaccinated, and I’m hoping I’ll get mine soon. I don’t want to get into the kind of vaccines we are using and my fears related to them because I’m no doctor and don’t want to accidentally spread misinformation, but all of this has caused a lot of worry and stress for us during the last couple of months.
On a happier note, I finished and submitted my MA thesis in April! For those of you who are interested, it’s about Australian Young Adult literature and it was actually pretty interesting to research and write it. That said, it was nonetheless a stressful process, and I’m so worried about what grade I will receive for it. 😱 I only have a few weeks left of my final semester, which is nerve-wrecking as I’m not too stoked about finding a job during a pandemic. Anyhow, I still have two essays to write as well as my final exam to prepare for, so these are the things I’ll be concentrating on during May.
Books We Read
Despite reading a smaller number of books than usual in April due to a slump early on, I actually ended up having a great reading month with three 5 star books. I wrote a whole post about four of the books I read this month, so I won’t go over those again here, but I’ll talk a bit about the others.
It took me a little while to get into CEMETERY BOYS, but I ended up enjoying this YA paranormal romance. I found the pacing to be a bit off, particularly in the first half. Also, the ending was quite predictable, as the author had left a lot of clues – though this isn’t always a bad thing in books, in this case it didn’t work for me. However, I absolutely fell in love with the two main characters and their dynamic which really made the book. ★★★★
THE LOST MAN was my first Jane Harper but it certainly won’t be the last. This adult mystery was so compelling and had some fantastic characters that I quickly grew to care for. I loved the way the mystery all came together, not only with obvious hints but with details I didn’t think would be important. Definitely worth a read, especially if you prefer your mystery novels to have great character development. ★★★★★
PETER DARLING has been on my radar for a little while now, but I was spurred on to pick it up by this booktube review and I am so, so glad for it! I fell completely head-over-heels for this novella which had me feeling so many things at once including joy, pain and even fear. I distinctly remember feeling afraid that it wouldn’t have a happy ending only a third of the way through because I had already become so attached to the characters and story by that point. I can’t recommend this adult fantasy inspired by Peter Pan enough. ★★★★★
After reading The Remains of the Day, I picked up another Ishiguro novel this month – AN ARTIST OF THE FLOATING WORLD – which Vera and I buddy-read. I loved the writing style of this book – the author is so precise with his use of language, and it results in a very readable story. As with The Remains of the Day, it follows a character that is slowly letting the reader into their reflections on life and there is much reading between the lines to be done, making for an emotional experience. ★★★★
My final read for the month was THE SOUND OF STARS by Alechia Dow. I had such a mixed experience with this book, because there was a lot to love about it, but there were also several things that didn’t work for me – the most significant being the pacing and plot of almost the entire middle section of the story. I also never really warmed up to the alien character, though I loved Janelle, the main character. The romance wasn’t the best, in my opinion, but it wasn’t unbearable. The last 100 or so pages, however, were really great and it was nice that those ended the book on a positive note for me. ★★★
My reading month started out horribly. I found myself barely reading anything, and so I finished my first book of April a little before we were two weeks into the month. You could definitely say that I was in a reading slump, especially as I was so not in the mood for reading that I wasn’t even reading fanfiction. You know something’s wrong when that happens with me. Thankfully, my reading started to pick up after I got through the first two books of the month – both of them utterly disappointing – so I still managed to finish a decent amount of books by the end of the month. Even though two of the books I read were plays and one was a novella, so they were short, I’m still pleased that I was able to read 14 books altogether. Let’s get into the most notable ones, shall we?
I definitely think that my overall mood was what led to my reading slump, but unfortunately, it didn’t help that my first two reads were awful. During the last few months, I’ve been buddy-reading the His Fair Assassin series with Caro and I loved having the chance to tackle and discuss these books together. The first three books of the series were rereads for both of us while the fourth and fifth were new to us. Unfortunately, the new additions to the series, especially IGNITING DARKNESS, were disappointing and didn’t live up to the original trilogy. It’s sad, but this is one of those cases when the author probably shouldn’t have continued this series after the third book. ★★
Around the same time I was reading Igniting Darkness, Sabrina and I set out to buddy-read The Brightest Night by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Having loved the previous two books, I was incredibly excited to jump into this one… up until I realized that nothing of worth was going to happen. Even though this is a relatively lengthy book, summarizing what happened in it would take no more than two minutes, if that. This experience has made me turn away from JLA’s books for now, which sucks because I wanted to try her adult fantasy romance series, Blood and Ash. Have you read that? If you have, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. ★★
Thankfully, the rest of the books I finished in April were much better, and even the few disappointments I had weren’t significant enough for me to include them here. So the good stuff! The Whisper Man by Alex North was a fantastic, thoroughly engaging thriller that I loved from start to finish. I loved the way we got to see different perspectives even as we focused on the first person narrator, Tom. I also found most of the twists really surprising, which made The Whisper Man a thrilling, if horrifying, read. ★★★★★
Jane Harper is one of those mystery-thriller writers that rarely disappoints: prior to The Survivors, she had released three novels, two of which I rated five stars and would consider some of my top favorites. I’m so pleased to say that The Survivors joined that five star club, as it was a captivating read from start to finish. My favorite aspect of Harper’s writing is that she really makes you invested in the characters, which means that I badly wanted them to stay alive and be happy by the end. Not going to spoil if that does or does not happen, but something that I can say is that The Survivors comes highly recommended from me. ★★★★★
I was so damn excited and happy when I realized that the Sweetpea series would continue with Dead Head, as I thought that the second book was the last in the series. The series follows Rhiannon, a murderer who starts to spiral out of control during the first book in the series. As weird as that sounds, Rhiannon is an incredibly entertaining narrator and I had a lot of fun reading all three books in the series. A bonus is that the audiobook narrator is absolutely fantastic, and she makes the reading experience even better. ★★★★★
Sophie Gonzales’ Only Mostly Devastated was one of my favorite novels last year so I was, of course, incredibly excited for Perfect on Paper, and I’m pleased to say that it did not disappoint. Something that I love about Sophie Gonzales is that she is able to concentrate on multiple aspects of the main character’s life. Besides the romance, we saw a lot of Darcy’s relationship with her family and her friendship with Brooke, not to mention her enthusiasm for giving relationship advice. To a lesser extent, the same can be said about the male lead, Brougham, which makes this a really strong contemporary YA in my eyes. ★★★★★
I’ve wanted to read Girls on the verge since its publishing, but I kept putting it aside until this month when I was really struggling with reading and needed something quick. As a novel that’s well under 300 pages, Girls on the Verge seemed like the perfect choice, and that proved to be true. The novel tells the story of Camille, a Texan teen who goes on a road trip with two friends to get an abortion. I flew through this novel; not only is it short, but it’s pacing is also relatively fast, so I found it really difficult to put it down. The only issue I had was that I think there could have been a bit more time spent on developing the characters – they weren’t underdeveloped exactly, but I think more development, especially regarding the relationship between the three girls, would have been great. ★★★★
I’m going to be honest, The Boy from the Mish wasn’t as good as I expected it to be, however, I still wanted to mention it in this wrap up because it’s still a good novel. It’s an Own Voices story that follows an Australian Aboriginal teen who starts to question his sexuality when he finds that he is attracted to another boy. Even though I had issues with the writing – both the writing style and the pacing could have used some polishing, I wanted to give a shout out to The Boy from the Mish, because it deserves more love and attention. If writing my thesis on Australian YA literature taught me anything it’s that Australian YA titles are overlooked for the most part, which isn’t right when these titles are just as strong as American titles. ★★★★
Lastly, I wanted to talk a bit about An Artist of the Floating World, which really cemented Ishiguro as one of my favorite authors. It follows an elderly Japanese man whose memories of the past start to haunt him. As my buddy-reading partner, Sabrina, mentioned above, this book brings The Remains of the Day, one of my all time favorite books, to mind. I love the way Ishiguro plays around with the idea that memories are fickle and that your own perception of what others around you think about you might be flawed. It is the ambiguity of this story that makes it so special.
Things We Watched
- After several years, I finally finished watching THE PUNISHER on Netflix, so that’s one item crossed off my 2021 watchlist! As I’ve mentioned before, I love almost everything about this show and I can definitely see myself rewatching it some time in the future.
- I also watched four movies, BOOKSMART being my favourite of them (3.5/5 stars), RED being my least favourite (2/5 stars) and YES DAY and DIE HARD (a rewatch) being somewhere in the middle (2.5/5 and 3/5 respectively). Aside from Booksmart, which made me laugh on a couple occasions but annoyed me on others, none of them stood out to me.
I really only watched two notable films during April, which is sad because technically, I watched at least a movie a week for my Australian film class… but sadly, none of the films this semester were particularly good.
- I read Moxie when it was first released and I adored that book so much, so imagine my excitement when I realized that it was being adapted by Netflix. I was a bit worried seeing the mixed reviews, but my friend and I ended up loving this film. 9/10
- I’ve been eagerly awaiting Shadow and Bone since I first learnt that it’ll feature the Six of Crows characters, aka some of my all time favorite characters. As I already wrote a post about the show – click here to read it – all I’ll say here is that I loved the show and I think it’s worth watching. 9/10
Things We Listened To
It feels like I have been waiting a lifetime for a new A Day To Remember album, but YOU’RE WELCOME was finally released in March. I’m including it in this wrap up though, because I have enjoyed listening to most of the songs this month. Aside from the singles that trickled out over the years, my favourite song from the album is probably High Diving, which I actually didn’t like on my first listen. Other favourites are Permanent, Resentment and Everything We Need.
Of course I have also been listening to FEARLESS (TAYLOR’S VERSION) non-stop. Though I recently cited You Belong With Me as my favourite, without taking nostalgia into account there are a great many songs I could have chosen instead – especially That’s When, which frequently brings tears to my eyes… I don’t know why.
With the release of folklore and evermore last year, you could definitely say that my 2020 was all about listening to Taylor Swift. With the release of Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and the belief that more rerecordings are coming this year, I can already see that my 2021 will also be filled with Taylor’s music. I became a fan during her 1989 era, and as someone that isn’t a big country music fan, I never really went back to listen to her old stuff. This means that most of Fearless (Taylor’s Version) was all new to me, which was really exciting; it was like getting a whole new Taylor Swift album. Like I said, I’m not a massive country fan, but as a dedicated fan, I put on my imaginary country boots and hat to listen to the album.. and I ended up adoring it. I highlighted my two favorite songs above, but it was really difficult to narrow it down, because I love and keep listening to the whole album. It’s so good.
If you’ve been with us for a while, you probably won’t be shocked to hear that I’m a big fan of fiction podcasts. My favorite podcast, The Magnus Archives came to its end in March, so I sought out other podcasts that came highly recommended.
- I love love love Old Gods of Appalachia, a horror anthology podcast with an engaging plot and a fantastic narrator. If you enjoy horror at all, I recommend trying this masterful podcast.
- I have a bit more conflicting feelings about Stellar Firma, an improvised comedy podcast. When I first started it, I was baffled by it, and yet something about it made me go back to it again and again. However, after listening to a good chunk of episodes it became one of my favorite podcasts.
- Finally, I listened to about half of Mabel, a horror podcast, during April and I’m not completely sure what to think of it. The podcast started off very strongly, but it slowly became very confusing. I’m committed to finishing it, but I have to admit, I expected more from this.
Posts We Loved
- Caro @ Book Cheshire Cat talked about how many of her most anticipated 2020 books she’d read, shared great authors she discovered in 2020,
- Emily @ Paperback Princess recommended romantic books by Asian authors.
- Kal @ Reader Voracious discussed evergreen content and shared some SEO basics.
- Malka @ Paper Procrastinators talked about bookish stereotypes.
- Marie & Nyx @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books shared YA titles that will make you cry, and recommended YA retellings.
neither of us had a lot of energy for blog-hopping, so we could only highlight a few posts we loved.
Did you have a nice April? Did you watch any good or otherwise notable movies? Did you find any new favourite books? Let us know!